The Role of Black Swan Events in History

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The world is an exciting and a massive place, and has been spinning for generations. Therefore, explaining why the history of the globe is such immense topic. Understanding, the world history presents a daunting challenge to many people especially if one begins from scratch. The world has gone through diverse spheres of lives covering a wide range of human activities and civilizations for instance education, culture, architecture, religion, conflicts, trade and many more. The advancement of science and technology especially in the areas of Anthropology has enabled scientists to delve into the human past in scales never witnessed before.

However, despite the scientific evolutions, many scholars still believe rich human history is till buried in ruins awaiting exploration. Besides, there are events in history that occurred unprecedentedly and were in most cases taken out of context for beneficial purposes. Further clouding human understanding of various aspects in history making it difficult to differentiate fact from legends. This paper aims to explore what is known and not known about early civilizations and the role played by the Black Swan Events in the history of early civilizations.

Known Facts about Early Civilizations

There are numerous known facts about early civilizations stretching from Agriculture, conflict, trade, to growth and development of vast empires. For instance, historians trace agriculture to its humble beginnings over 9,000 years ago or the Mesolithic age in two locations: Papua New Guinea and the Middle East. Thus, human societies in these regions increasingly abandoned nomadism as a result of farming crops leading establishments of great cities like Mesopotamia in Iraq. Sustained agricultural activities contributed immensely in social stratification and for the first time, population grew spontaneously. Despite the massive positive impact agriculture had on human civilizations, the environment suffered immensely due to extreme deforestation for example Tikal city of the Mayan dynasty, in modern day Guatemala. Still historians, can trace ancient civilizations by studying the forest patterns that tell presence of agricultural activities.

            Another well documented aspect of ancient civilizations are wars. Conflicts have been part and parcel of humans for generations. Clans, communities, tribes, alliances, and kingdoms have raised and marshalled armies to battle with each other (Text Material). Ancient rock paintings famously depict battle scenes further signifying the importance of conflicts through human history. As the world evolved, so did battleship. Armies increasingly became organized, large, and in many instance equipped with uniforms, and more powerful weaponry. Moreover, being a soldier transformed from a mere part-time work to a full time profession as evidenced in the Old Akkadian dynasties. Additionally, the soldiers’ formations in the battlefield greatly transformed for instance, before soldiers mainly were on foot but gradually they started using horses and chariots funded by the state.

            Third, trade which has been the cornerstone in the growth and development of major dynasties. Silk Road, the well-documented trade in the early civilization established around 100 B.C, and stretched 4,000 miles connecting China and the Middle East. This trade route characterized heavy influence of both the West and the East (Hanna 11). Thereby allowing exchange of ideas, culture, and religion in addition to the actual commodities. The route derives its name from the most important item at that time-silk clothe-which was only available in China at that time. Fourth, empires which were the very nucleus holding various civilizations together. Empires served great roles such as establishing trade routes, maintain law and order, advancing technology, and disseminating ideas. Throughout thousands of years, the world has seen massive empires built and collapse. The first civilizations such as Sumeria developed due to agriculture, however as time progressed, empires became pinnacles of knowledge transmission, defined by great armies and architecture for instance the Greek and the Roman Empires (Lecture Notes). Further, towards the later part of the 16th century empire were mostly defined by a people seeking self-governance and autonomy.

Unknown Facts about Early Civilizations

In many occasions when people think about the ancient times, their minds automatically switch to great kingdoms such as Greece, Rome, Persia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. While it is evident that these great dynasties contributed immensely in the advancement of modern civilization, but history has often overlooked and often ignorant of certain facts concerning the ancient world. For instance, India has always had ties with the west even before the famous landing of Vasco da Gama-the Portuguese explorer-in 1498. Contrary to the popular notion that Vasco da Gama opened India to the Western World, India had long been introduced to the culture and world of the West before the Great Britain or other colonialists set foot into the country. Alexander the Great is credited with opening up India and played an influential role in dissemination Greek culture and civilization. However, after his demise in 323 B.C, a genuine connection between the East and Europe lost and only resurfaced after Vasco da Gama voyage to India.

            Another popular misconceived understanding is that of America before Columbus. According to early European explorers America was a pristine place that had largely been untouched by human civilization. In his memoirs, Columbus noted that the natives were barbaric and uncivilized. The truth is that America was not uncivilized, as a matter of fact great civilizations like the Aztecs, Maya, and the Inca once thrived in America. However, due to massive deforestations, climate change and disease these civilizations collapsed (Edwin 203). Besides, the local tribes were highly organized and constantly traded with other communities. However, the Europeans brought with them diseases which the local people and plants had not developed immune to, leading to widespread deaths among the local native Americans.

Role of Black Swan in History of Early Civilizations

Black Swan events are those incidences that are unprecedented however if they occur most people see them as necessary occurrence (Orlik and Laura 4). Black Swan events played a tremendous role in the history of ancient civilizations especially justifying certain actions undertaken by a group of people. For instance, the religious wars and crusades in a bid to win more Christians, conquests to civilizes world considered barbaric, and the reaffirmation periods in the history of Christianity.


In summary, the human world continue to undergo transformations. It is worthwhile to note that the actions taken by people in the ancient times in many ways play pivotal roles in our lives. The wars help us understand the human and material costs of conflicts. The principles laid down in ancient times still find relevance in our lives today. What the contemporary society does is to improve and innovate based on the techniques set forth in the ancient era.

Works Cited

Carawan, Edwin. "Political Obligation in Ancient Greece and the Modern World." (2016): 202-204.

Hanna, Eriny. "The Route to Crisis: Cities, Trade, and Epidemics of the Roman Empire." Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal 10 (2015).

Lecture Notes. "Black Swan Events." Reading.

Orlik, Anna, and Laura Veldkamp. Understanding uncertainty shocks and the role of black swans. No. w20445. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2014.

Text Material. "Current Trends in World History." Lecture.

November 13, 2023


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